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Can the pleasure of playing soccer and being passionate about it be taught?

 by  Coach Gianni Mininni

Can the pleasure of playing soccer and being passionate about it be taught to kids and adults?
Yes, of course! Like everything else.

By making them see the right things, listen to the right things and by being an example to them!

Kids are like sponges. In particular in their first years. Do you know that the majority of the information that is stored in our brains, in a lifetime, is put there in the first 3 years of our lives, even if we will live for 100 years?

So, be careful about what you say or what you do with your children during their first 3 years of existence, because every word and every fact, will be there FOREVER and it will determine their choices, tastes, passions and aspirations for the rest of their lives!

When I was a kid, both of my parents were working so, being an only child, I grew up basically by myself, with someone who was taking care of me, and for sure wasn’t there to educate me! Unfortunately, she was just there and not always. Often I was home by myself for many hours when I was only 4.

So, I started early to organize my life in doing what I liked to do most. And that was, for what I remember, listening to music, drawing and playing soccer.


Because these where the 3 things that my father did in his free time!

When I was home by myself, I remember as if it were yesterday, through the years in growing up, I played the few records that we had over and over again. I can’t forget the titles of the pieces, and please consider that I grew up in Milano, Italy. They were, “Only you” and “My prayer” by the Platters, the musical “West Side Story”, “Rock Around The Clock”, and “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gerswhin.

As you can see, a mix of modern classic, musical, easy listening and Rock & Roll. That mix, created my music tastes of 360 degrees. Today I can hear rock, country, opera, folk, jazz, classic or chorus, with the same pleasure. That simple selection of pieces gave me a complete musical formation and, as a kid, I wasn’t like today’s kids, that barely know, if they know, (apart from some rare exceptions and I have the fortune to know one!!!) that there is something else besides the sequence of noise and nonsense that they listen to and have the courage to call “MUSIC”!

What developed my musical taste? Just the few records that my parents owned.

I remember that when I was 5, my father gave private lessons at night to Architect students, teaching them how to correctly draw blue prints. Just listening and looking, I was able to put on paper orthogonal projections and I learned the rules of prospective drawing, before going to school!
Often my father asked me to show the students how to solve a prospective problem and I can’t forget when, around 10 years old, I corrected at school a teacher who was drawing something wrong on the board. So, no one taught me. I just looked and listen when I was 5, probably 4!
Coming to soccer, my father, before the war, being a professional soccer player, obviously began to teach me soccer when I was little. Unfortunately, a little to hard for my age. More than 50 years ago, the modern technique to teach soccer to kids, wasn’t invented yet so, he coached me like his professional coach, coached him! But, I learned anyway, even if the hard way.

But, the passion for soccer, even if I had played soccer for hours everyday, come in another way. And that is by seeing the greatest players play. LIVE not on TV! (which anyway, is already something.)

It was going to the soccer stadiums that started the real ‘addiction‘!

If you have read the book “Fever pitch” by Nick Hornby, you understand what I’m talking about. It was even made into a movie. Careful not to see the ’stupid’ remake that was done about the Red Sox! The original is about soccer. About Arsenal, to be more precise.

So, if you’d like for your sons and daughters to get passionate about soccer, besides playing it, which is the fist ingredient to getting passionate about it, really understand and get the right feeling about it, bring them to the stadiums to see the ’big guys’ play and, when some teams from Europe or South America, like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United, A.C. Milan, Boca Junior or River Plate, come for exhibition games, drive even hundreds miles or take a plane and go see them. Just one time in a stadium full of 50/60 thousand people that sustain their soccer teams, and the ‘magic’ will start. And, it will be there forever! This Un incubo will be there forever!

So, when they go back and play, they will try to imitate the champion’s moves and style. This will push them in trying to get better, more than all the instructions that we try to transfer to them, because they saw directly what it means to be great!

If you are lucky enough to have good soccer skills and play during the week end, even better. Just looking at you, your kids will dream, one day, to be on the field like mom and dad and score goals.

Emulation is the greatest motivator. So, just do the right things and say the right words, not necessarily directly to them. They will copy you from the beginning. In particular when they are not talking yet.

The fact that they don’t talk yet, doesn’t mean that they don’t listen or see!

As I said at the beginning, through these two senses, they will acquire almost the totality of the information that will accompany them through the journey of their life. Give them good companions to travel with.

Soccer, could be one of them, even if, of course, there are other hundreds of good companions like books, brushes, canvas, musical instruments, pets, traveling, sunsets, dawns, fires, songs, movies, paintings, sculptures, oceans, skies, grass, sand, blue eyes, old t-shirts and……………………… on and on and the best companion ever………………… parents. Real ones. Possibly two!

Coach Gianni can be reached at:

Gianni Mininni

Coach Gianni Mininni is the author of "The Team", a Soccer Novel. The novel is for people of all ages, even if they are not strictly soccer lovers. Players and coaches will find dozens of situations and suggestions that will permit them to improve their soccer knowledge and consequently, perform better at any age. Learn more about Coach Gianni Mininni at The Coach Gianni Soccer Academy.